Sailing On High

Department of Defence

Talk to any of the crew in HMAS Yarra and the overwhelming take-away is the high level of professional and personal satisfaction there is within the ship and in the minehunter community.

Following a scheduled maintenance period, the ship is in a work-up period and will shortly conduct at-sea assessments ranging from basic mariner safety through to high-end warfare, including a deep diving work-up with the other minehunter coastal (MHC) vessels at sea.

Executive officer Yarra Lieutenant Jake Moir said morale on the ship was high going into the serials, and the crew members were all achieving their goals.

“Within the ship we’ve got people that have come from amphibious environments, from destroyers and frigates, as well as other areas, so we’ve got a lot of diverse thought on board and that is a capability-enhancer for everyone,” he said.

“We also have a big fitness culture within the team, so we’ll train together, play sport together and most recently we’ve won the MHC sports day for the second year in a row.”

In March, Yarra marked 21 years since its commissioning and is one of four of the original six Huon-class minehunters still in service.

Minehunters perform a number of specialist roles within Navy; supporting mine warfare, clearance diving, hydrography, meteorology, search and rescue and border patrols.

The ships are home-ported in Sydney Harbour at HMAS Waterhen – the lead establishment for mine warfare and home to some of its most advanced mine counter-measure equipment and technology, as well as Australian clearance diver teams.

Lieutenant Moir said the people involved formed a true community.

“The MHC community has a common purpose and it’s a very close group among the boats and the shore organisations, so there are relationships there that have been strong for a long time,” he said.

Echoing that sentiment is maritime warfare officer Lieutenant Yoon Lee, who trained on a variety of vessels before joining Yarra as an officer of the watch.

Lieutenant Lee has been on a number of operations, including Resolute and Tonga Assist, and cites the camaraderie on board the MHCs as one of their strengths.

“MHCs are great. They’re not as fancy and grand as some of the newer platforms but you get to know everyone really well and we’re an extremely close crew,” he said.

Lieutenant Lee was born in Korea and came to Australia as a six-year-old.

He graduated from Melbourne High School, has a degree in International Security Studies from the Australian National University and speaks Japanese and Korean.

Next up on his impressive resume is training to become a principal warfare officer, which he is working towards while serving in Yarra.

While he has no shortage of support within the ship’s company, it’s his Korean parents in Melbourne who are his biggest supporters.

“My parents are ecstatic and always wanted me to join Navy because the service is held in such high regard in Korea,” he said.

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